Bavaria is famous for museums such as the renowned Alte Pinakothek or the Germanische Museum. But it also has many small original, even bizarre exhibitions to discover. From the Grabkreuzmuseum (Museum of Grave Crosses) to the Dackelmuseum (Dachshund Museum) and the Luftmuseum (Air Museum). Twelve weird or wonderful tips
Unusual Museums in Bavaria: 12 Top Tips
Valentin-Karlstadt-Musäum in Munich
Karl Valentin and Liesl Karlstadt are the most famous pair of artists in Munich. A museum dedicated to them was opened in the Isartor in Munich’s old town. An entertaining mix of information and curiosities illustrates the life and work of the pair. Personal items, documents, photos and postcards are on display.
In addition, there are typical Valentin-style objects such as his “Winterzahnstocher” (a winter toothpick) and his melted snow sculpture as well as numerous audio and video features. A cinema shows film classics made by the two multi-media geniuses. A further exhibition provides information about the “Folk Singers”, which became a new art phenomenon from the middle of the 19th century onwards. Changing special exhibitions are on show as well.
valentin-musaeum.de (only in German)
Pinsel- und Bürstenmuseum (Paintbrush and Brush Museum) in Bechhofen
When it comes to brushes, variety is key. This is impressively documented by the German Pinsel- und Bürstenmuseum in Bechhofen. There are cosmetic brushes, toothbrushes, clothes brushes, shaving brushes and many more. Even in the Paleolithic era (early Stone Age), brushes were used to paint cave walls; the tools consisted of hollow bones and tufts of hair.
The history, component parts and production of paintbrushes and brushes are presented in sixteen rooms. More than 2,500 exhibits are on show. The difference between European and Asian brushes is also demonstrated: while some were used for painting, others were used as writing instruments.
pinselmuseum-bechhofen.de (only in German)
Luftmuseum (Air Museum) in Amberg
Hopefully it will never run out and it definitely deserves its own museum: air – air to feel, to sense, to look at, to understand, to hear. This imaginative museum is housed in a Gothic building from the 14th century in Amberg, one of the most beautiful cities in the Upper Palatinate. On three floors, the collection displays exhibits from the fields of art, architecture, design and technology. Curious and entertaining.
Changing exhibitions complete the show. The multi-award-winning museum was founded in 2006 as a spontaneous initiative by the artist Wilhelm Koch, sponsored by an association. Since the opening of the Luftmuseum, Amberg has taken to calling itself an “aerial art venue”.
Zündholzmuseum (Matchstick Museum) near Bad Kötzting
The first practical matches were developed at the beginning of the 19th century. Safety matches have been around since the 1850s. They can only be ignited on special friction surfaces. One focus of production in Germany was in the Bayerischer Wald (Bavarian Forest) on the Weißen Regen river. In 1950, the Allemann match factory in Grafenwiesen near Bad Kötzting was the largest employer in the area.
Today, the small matchstick museum at Grafenwiesen provides information about the production of matches and the evolution from manual to industrial manufacturing processes. There is also a collection of matchboxes on display that provides insights into the variety of labels.
Zuendholzmuseum-Grafenwiesen (only in German)
Grabkreuzmuseum (Museum of Grave Crosses) in Ebersberg
Since the 1970s, the ornamental blacksmiths Manfred Bergmeister and German Larasser from Ebersberg have been collecting wrought-iron grave crosses. In 2002 they opened their private museum of grave crosses there. Their aim is to inform people about the centuries-old art of making grave crosses and their symbols.
The wrought-iron works of art are an important chapter in Bavarian cultural history. The museum, set up in old workshop rooms, reflects around 500 years of grave culture and craftsmanship. The oldest crosses in the collection are early Renaissance works, the newest ones being made by contemporary forges.
grabkreuzmuseum.de (only in German)
“Hinter Gittern” (“Behind Bars”) near Donauwörth
The former Cistercian Imperial Abbey of Kaisheim near Donauwörth was repurposed as a forced labour institution in 1816, and later became a prison (today a correctional facility). The Bavarian Ministry of Justice installed the permanent exhibition “Behind Bars” in the so-called Imperial Hall (Kaisersaalflügel).
In four different stages, it draws a realistic picture of the penal system and its historical development, from physical punishment to imprisonment, from the 19th century to the present day. With objects, photographs and scenarios. The exhibition provides an insight into everyday life in prison, the organisation of the penal system and the different stages of a prisoner’s life from admission through to release. It also explores the problems of coping with freedom after imprisonment.
kaisheim.de (only in German)
Besenwelten (Broom Worlds) in Günzburg
Do leaf blowers drive you mad? Besenwelten in the Swabian town of Günzburg offers a glimpse of the peaceful universe of sweeping and brushing! It features artifacts from a wide variety of materials and countries of origin, in the most diverse colours and shapes: from an old feather duster from Nymphenburg Castle to Harry Potter’s magical Nimbus 2000. Plus a host of stories about this traditional, globally used implement. The brooms are all one-off pieces, crafted by hand. There is also a lovely collection of wind-up tin toys. All are in full working order and ready to roll, somersault or hop.
besenwelten.de (only in German)
Erika-Fuchs-Haus at Hof
Erika Fuchs was born Johanna Theodolinde Erika Petri in Rostock in 1906. A trained art historian, she became famous as the translator of the Micky Mouse magazines. Her stylistic means of inflection, dubbed “erikative” in her honour, became popular: in German, the reduction of verbs to the stem – groan, moan, brood ... – is not common, but now forms part of common speech.
By using onomatopoeia she recreated sounds: Bang, Boooom, Baboom and “Klickeradom” – the latter borrowed from Wilhelm Busch. The translator even managed to weave Schiller and Goethe into the comic stories. Erika Fuchs died in Munich in 2005. The “Erika-Fuchs-Haus – Museum für Comic und Sprachkunst” (Museum for Comics and Linguistic Art” in Schwarzenbach bei Hof presents her life and creative talent in seven rooms.
erika-fuchs.de (only in German)
Ballonmuseum (Balloon Museum) Gersthofen
Floating aloft in Swabia. This museum in Gersthofen near Augsburg is bursting with information about the origins of ballooning in Germany as well as about technology and balloon production. Other topics include the use of balloons in science and the military, ballooning as a leisure activity and much more besides. Touch and try: climb into a floating balloon basket or a replica of the Piccard gondola (the Swiss inventor Auguste Piccard took a flight into the stratosphere in the original in 1931).
The collection is housed in a former water tower with a view over Augsburg. Gersthofen has one of the few launch sites for gas balloons in Germany. Every year, an international gas balloon competition starts from here.
ballonmuseum-gersthofen.de (only in German)
Würzburg Prothesensammlung (Prosthesis Collection) “Second Hand”
Quite literally “second hand”: the collection at the Landesbehörde Zentrum Bayern Familie und Soziales (ZBFS – Bavarian Regional Authority for the Family and Social Affairs) shows used prostheses and orthopaedic aids in the form of images, photos, films and exhibits. The aim is to illustrate the historical development and diversity of prosthesis technology. In the 19th century, Johann Georg Heine and Bernhard Heine (inventor of the osteotome, an instrument for cutting bones) revolutionized orthopaedics in Würzburg. They made the city the cradle of prosthetics. A hands-on section offers the chance to gain exciting insights, for example with an age simulation suit or exoskeleton (outer skeleton). 1.5 hours should be allowed for the collection and the hands-on section.
wuerzburger-prothesensammlung.de (only in German)
Dackelmuseum (Dachshund Museum) in Regensburg
The dachshund, commonly known as a “Dackel” in German, is a Bavarian icon. And popular worldwide. Reason enough to be given a museum in its honour. This hall of fame, small in scale as befits its subject, can be found in central Regensburg.
There are about 2,500 dachshund figures on display, both small and large, made of wood, porcelain, fabric and other materials. From nodding dachshunds to Waldi, the Olympic mascot. Most of the exhibits are presented, slightly tongue-in-cheek, in display cabinets. In addition, on the information boards there are interesting snippets on topics such as basic types of dachshunds, their cultural history and their association with hunting.
Eichenauer Pfefferminzmuseum (Peppermint Museum)
Peppermint cultivation in Eichenau began in 1918. The first trials were made by Adolf Pfaffinger with Mitcham mint. This originated from the experimental garden of the Bavarian State Institute for Crop Production in Weihenstephan. A medicinal plant, it grew magnificently on the Eichenau moorland. Other mint growers followed. Eichenau peppermint finally achieved top German quality with the highest content of essential oils.
The area under cultivation amounted to more than 400,000 square metres. Only when the spice market for foreign goods was opened in 1956 did production come to a standstill. Today, the peppermint is only cultivated for the museum. The result: Original Eichenau peppermint tea. The museum provides information about the cultivation, harvesting and drying of peppermint.
minzmuseum.de (only in German)